December 20, 2017
I have never lost my delight in Christmas! Since I was a child it has always been about a feast and having family around, and that's what has continued in my family.
I'm sure you'd all agree that Christmas just wouldn't be the same without a beautiful Baked Ham in the centre of your table, so I'm going to share with you my top tips, from selecting your ham, to then preparing, decorating and baking, so it's even more special!
SELECTING YOUR HAM
The quality of the ham is paramount! I always use one of my daughter, Saskia's, hams, which is a heritage breed, Berkshire ham that has been properly raised and is one of the finest eating hams in the world. Alternatively, you can buy directly from your butcher.
PREPARING YOUR HAM
I recommend taking your ham out of the fridge 30-60 minutes before you intend to prepare it - this will allow the stripping of the skin to be much easier.
When the time comes to start preparing your ham, the first step is to remove the rind. Make a cut 10cm from the hock, then using your fingers and starting from the top, gently pull the skin away from the ham, ensuring to leave the fat in tact because this is what you're going to glaze that's going to make such a beautiful difference. Continue to work your fingers around until the skin has been completely pulled away.
The next step is to score the fat. Using a small sharp knife, cut the fat in a crisscross pattern to form diamonds. Ensure to maintain an even depth all over and avoid cutting the flesh.
Now onto the glazing! My favourite is a Quince Glaze, but there's all sorts of delicious glazes to try. Brush the glaze over the fat using a basting brush, and if you're happy to get your fingers dirty, I like to give it a bit of a massage too.
COOKING YOUR HAM
Follow the recipes instructions because different recipes ask for different cooking times! If you haven't picked one yet, you can find my recipes here.
I suggest placing a piece of baking paper in the base of your oven tray to catch any glaze that drips off during the cooking process - this will save you a great deal of scrubbing when you're doing the dreaded dishes later.
I always re-glaze the ham half way through the cooking time and then return the tray to the oven the opposite way around to allow for even cooking.
The final bit of advice I'd like to impart is that there's a big difference between burnt and burnished! From many, the colour of my ham would appear burnt, but I would argue that it's just right! I really like to push it to the edge and that's what you want because it allows for a rich fat layer!
And now for the best part - carve and devour!
Place any leftover ham in a ham bag or pillow case, and pop into the fridge. There's so many ways to use up leftover ham, but my favourite would have to be the simplest of all - Ham, Cheese & Chutney Toasties! Alternatively you could use in a quiche or salad or pasta sauce - the possibilities are endless!